Galle, Sri Lanka

Owl and the Pussycat

Rates from (ex tax)$235.00

Price information

If you haven’t entered any dates, the rate shown is provided directly by the hotel and represents the cheapest double room (including tax) available in the next 21 days.

Prices have been converted from the hotel’s local currency (USD303.34), via, using today’s exchange rate.


How charmingly sweet


On the edge of the sand

In keeping with the poetry of Edward Lear, Owl and the Pussycat is fanciful and fun; an added perk is its actual, as opposed to fantastical, beachside setting. Additional real-life lures here include: a Runcible Spoon restaurant worth visiting for its prawn popcorn alone; colourful, art-graced rooms styled by two well-travelled property developers; a cocktail-toting Beach Shack that knows how to handle ginger, lime, arrack and chilli, and a dreamy massage pagoda perched a shell’s throw from the ocean…

Smith Extra

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A morning visit to the vibrant local markets, accompanied by the hotel’s executive chef, Anthony D'Costa


Photos Owl and the Pussycat facilities

Need to know


16, including 10 suites.


11am. Earliest check-in, 1pm. Both are flexible, availability permitting.


Double rooms from $235.00, excluding tax at 29.08 per cent.

Price information

If you haven’t entered any dates, the rate shown is provided directly by the hotel and represents the cheapest double room (including tax) available in the next 21 days.

Prices have been converted from the hotel’s local currency (USD303.34), via, using today’s exchange rate.

More details

Rates usually include à la carte breakfast.


The hotel is owned by two well-travelled property developers, Reita Gadkari and Shane Thantirimudalige. Thanks to Reita’s roaming, the Owl is decorated with art that’s both local (look out for the paddy-sack pieces in some of the bathrooms) and far-flung (from Argentina, for example).

At the hotel

Beachside massage pagoda; free WiFi throughout. In rooms: minibar; organic lemongrass bath products. Suites come with fully equipped kitchens.

Our favourite rooms

We’re sweet on the suites, on account of their colourful styling, lashings of space, handy kitchens and ocean-spying terraces (some of which have hanging day-beds). If you opt for a room, take one with a terrace rather than a balcony – you’ll thank us for it when you’re lounging on it.


There’s an eye-poppingly pretty 17-metre pool with blue-and-green tiles, tucked away in the ocean-spying gardens. A traditional fishing boat is parked up beside it, though we wouldn’t recommend sailing off anywhere...


The hotel has a massage pagoda beside the waves, where guests can be pampered with aromatherapy treatments. Alternatively, have your toes and hands prettified while you sip a cup of tea. Staff can also arrange Ayurvedic treatments with a handy local expert, who owns a spa nearby.

Packing tips

Follow Lear’s advice and bring any – or all – of the following: honey and money; mince and quince; a runcible spoon, or a pea-green boat.


The hotel has wheelchair-accessible rooms and areas.


Despite its fanciful name, this Owl has a grown-up vibe: aside from certain ‘family weeks’ in the year (Easter and Christmas), the hotel only accepts Smiths aged 12 and above. Cots can be added to rooms (from $75).


Most of the hotel’s buildings were made by hand, using traditional tools. Mosquito netting on sliding doors lets guests fall asleep to the sound of the sea, and negates the need for air-conditioning. Filtered water is used, so as to minimise plastic; bath products come packaged in recycled materials. Pillows are graced with a little owl and pussycat made by children at a local orphanage; you can buy the artworks for US$50 (proceeds go to the orphanage).

Food and Drink

Photos Owl and the Pussycat food and drink

Top Table

Nab one of the two high tables right on the sea. Who needs salt when you have salt spray?

Dress Code

Whatever you can dance by the light of the moon in. Or something pea-green. (The more colourful, the better.)

Hotel restaurant

In Lear’s poem, the owl and pussycat use a ‘runcible spoon’ to eat fruit. Thankfully, at Owl and the Pussycat’s Runcible Spoon restaurant, there’s a lot more on offer than just fruit: devilled cashews, prawn ‘popcorn’, curry with lemon-ginger rice and grilled parafish with lemongrass and coconut sauce, for example. The restaurant’s colourful indoor area spills over into an outside space; you’ll want to be enjoying the latter, unless it’s raining or exceptionally hot.

Hotel bar

If you ever needed proof that it’s wise to befriend barmen, just look at the Owl and the Pussycat’s menu, designed for the owner by their mixologist friend. Drinks continue the Lear-loving theme: try the Gingered Owl, which features lime, local arrack, ginger and ‘village snake chilli’ (Sri Lankan green chilli) or the Passionate Pussycat: a muddle of vodka, lime, passionfruit and mint. Drinks are served in the Beach Shack, whose high tables and colourful-cushion-topped seats are perched on a trellis above the ocean.

Last orders

Runcible Spoon will keep you fed and watered from 7.30am until 10.30pm; the Beach Shack stays open until 11pm.

Room service

No formal room service as such, but Runcible Spoon and the Beach Shack should suffice.


Photos Owl and the Pussycat location
Owl and the Pussycat
N.788, Matara Road, Thalpe
Sri Lanka


Colombo’s Bandaranaike International Airport is a two-hour drive away from the hotel. Sri Lankan Airlines ( flies direct to Colombo from select European destinations and Sydney. One-way hotel transfers are US$150 a vehicle.


Thalpe’s railway station is only five minutes away from Owl and the Pussycat by car; hop here from Colombo in around four hours (the ticket only costs the equivalent of a few pounds). The hotel offers free transfers to and from the station.


If you want to hire a car, pick one up from Colombo. The closest town to the hotel is Galle, a 15-minute drive away. From Galle, head towards Thalpe/Mirissa; continue on the straight road for around 10 or 15 minutes, until you see a hotel called Starlight. Owl and the Pussycat’s turning is just before the hotel; follow this track and the lights to the entrance, where staff will be waiting to welcome you. (Lucky you.)

Worth getting out of bed for

Embark on a morning tour of Galle’s markets with the hotel’s friendly chef, Anthony (book with Smith and we’ll treat you to this). Explore the Unesco-listed fort town of Galle, where brilliant restaurants, artisan boutiques and eye-popping architecture await. Set off on a catamaran trip in search of whales (December–April), or visit a tea plantation or cinnamon island to learn about local production processes. Borrow bikes and go cycling through an incredible tapestry of landscapes: paddy fields, jungles, beaches and more (keep your eyes peeled for Buddhist temples). Active types should make the most of Sri Lanka’s famous waves: go surfing or kite surfing, with help from a local expert if necessary. The hotel’s neighbours include a turtle sanctuary, where you can admire different types of turtles, including hawksbill, green, leatherback and Oliver. The sanctuary relies on the help of fishermen, who bring the vulnerable turtles’ eggs to the hatchery, which has resulted in the safe hatching and release of more than a million teeny turtles. Visits cost LKR2,500 (£13) each.

Local restaurants

The Smith-approved Amangalla hotel has an excellent restaurant, which serves up succulent curries, as well as nostalgic classics that match its vintage styling (old-school lobster thermidor, for example). The Fort Bazaar hotel is also worth visiting for Church Street Social, whose tempting small plates showcase an eclectic cast of flavours. Stand-out dishes include black-pork curry and lagoon-crab salad (+94 773 638 381). Zephyr Restaurant & Bar (+94 77 750 2222) is set on a lovely beach in Mirissa, a half-hour drive from the hotel; post-swim and sunbathe, have a relaxed meal at this rustic but stylish seafood shack. Continue the seaside thrills at Sun and Sea in Unawatuna (+94 091 228 3200), which is popular for its pizzas. We also have a massive soft spot for Smith-approved Kahanda Kanda, whose restaurant serves Sri Lankan curries pepped up with fruit, vegetables and herbs grown on the hotel’s estate.

Local bars

Have sex on the beach (in cocktail form) at Kingfisher in Unawatuna (+94 077 340 8405), which has a lively local atmosphere. The bar also rustles up delicious snacks.


Photos Owl and the Pussycat reviews

Anonymous review

Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this fantastical hotel in Sri Lanka and unpacked their honey and money, a full account of their beach break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Owl and the Pussycat in Galle…

If you’ve ever wondered where the Bong-tree grows, where an owl and pussycat dance by the light of the moon, where you can dine on mince and quince with a runcible spoon – we have the answer. It’s Galle in Sri Lanka, on the edge of the sand (there’s a massage pagoda there, too). Owl and the Pussycat is inspired by Edward Lear’s whimsical poetry; it adds plenty of its own whimsy to the mix too, thanks to eclectic art, creative shared plates (including addictive prawn ‘popcorn’), popsicle-bright hits of colour and a bohemian beach-shack bar, where you can drink, dance and serenade each other like love-struck birds and felines. (If you just want to sit back, relax, admire the ocean and sip a lime-splashed arrack cocktail, that’s also a-OK.)

The Guestbook

Whenever you book a stay at a Smith Hotel with us, we’ll invite you to review it when you get back. Read what other Smith members had to say in Owl and the Pussycat’s Guestbook below.

We loved

Everything from falling asleep to the sound of waves to sunbathing on our private balcony! The hotel is beautifully decorated, food and cocktails are delicious and the staff is very attentive.

Don’t expect

A sandy beach at the hotel.


Stayed on 22 Mar 2017

We loved

The location is amazing. Right on the shores of the Indian Ocean. Vinitha of Chatterbox Tours did a great cookery class.

Don’t expect

Not easy to walk anywhere but tuk tuks very easy to get to take you places.


Stayed on 10 Mar 2017

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